The “average” traveler does not even know what a “point” is worth.  We know!  I have received many positive comments about my “Essentials” tab that can help you find the seats you want at low level with some work and time.

But what if you just don’t have the time to do it for the next trip? Don’t stress out, there is help. One of my fellow Boarding Area bloggers Points, Miles & Martinis,  AKA The Weekly Flyer,  does a great job at award booking at a very reasonable fee. I had an afternoon chat with him to ask a bit about his service and why we should not just do it on our own!

A warm welcome to you from me and DeltaPoints readers!

Thanks René.

First some basics. What is a booking service anyway?

Have you ever searched for an award only to find the award space doesn’t exist or requires 250,000 miles for what should otherwise cost only 100,000 miles? We’ve all been there.

Since we’ve been there a few times, we help our readers travel better by using less miles to book their award. In 2011, we redeemed over 1,734,000 points and miles for dream vacations all over the world. We are passionate about helping others travel better.

Got it! So for a little extra we can avoid a lot of stress. I have looked at your interview with Daraius at Million Mile Secrets , but tell us a bit more about your booking service (click to see more). Why did you start it?

We started the booking service this year after realizing that many of our friends and readers needed help with booking their award. The service allows us to focus on helping readers use their miles more effectively at the low mileage levels.

We here at DeltaPoints obviously care mostly about Delta. Are you able to successfully find tickets when it seems we cannot?

Yes. For example, we recently redeemed 150k on Air France from the East Coast of the US to French Polynesia. This is one of the best award redemptions using SkyMiles. Even though the pricing engine showed the ticket would cost 240k SKyMiles, we engineered a ticket that saved 90k SkyMiles by using a combination of tactics. In addition, in 2009 we found a way to use SkyMiles on Air Seychelles through an Air France code share. We went to Paris, Seychelles, and Mauritius for only 120k in Business class each. Recently, we booked a reader on an award ticket to Mauritius from Los Angeles for only 120k in business class per person. There are some really good uses of SkyMiles out there and we know how to find the availability at the low levels because we’ve redeemed miles for the routes ourselves.

And I guess that is where your experience comes into play! Boy, it sure seems scary to give you all of our frequent flyer information. Is this really safe?

Yes. We have a number of ways to book the ticket based on your comfort level. I provide references when requested and work with each client to determine their comfort level. The most convenient way is we’ll do all the research, call delta and piece the itinerary together, then conference in the reader to make sure they provide Delta the information to pay for the fees on the ticket and use their SkyMiles. Other customers have given us their information and we’ve sent them confirmations when the booking process was complete. We even reserve preferred seating on partner carriers based on the client’s preferences.

Thanks! What if we run into trouble after we book. Will you help us or do we call the airline or hotel?

Yes. In a few instances flight times have changed, and I’ve been able to secure better routes for clients. I’m always happy to help after the booking process is complete, this way, hopefully readers will come back to us for future award booking needs.

That sounds good. Well thank you so much for this afternoon chat. While DeltaPoints readers tend to be a notch above the rest when it comes to finding the seats we want, it is good to know we have an option we can trust if we need it!

Thanks René! Keep up the good work with DeltaPoints.

So there you are DeltaPoints readers. I stand by the fact that Delta Skymiles are some of the most valuable points in ANY miles program. From the chance to fly 3 trips for the cost of 2 to great business class seats on the way to upgrades and points that never expire – ours are just TOPS! Now we even know how to get help spending them if we don’t have the time to do it ourselves! – René

 

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I get this question all the time. Many, including my fellow bloggers, those at Flyer Talk & Mile Point, will tell you you can get the same benefits by JUST getting the Delta AMEX branded credit cards! This is because the cards get you so many Delta benefits like zone 2 boarding, a free bag and on and on! I have even, in this blog, talked about the fact that having the Delta AMEX is like having “Gold Plated” medallion status with Delta. I am now modifying my stand. Really, why? Why should I try to get ANY level of status with Delta?

Times, they are a changing. Delta is going to make changes to the Skymiles program, we do not know just when. So how will status help? Simple. How our airline “looks” at us when we fly. Like what, upgrades? Much more than just that. I have a list for you to consider:

  • Upgrades. Sure, the higher your status the better and keep in mind the Delta Reserve breaks all ties.
  • Boarding and bag space. Face it, first on, your bags go up and you get leg room. The gate cattle get to put their bags under seat and get no leg room! In a tight “tin can” space, this is what we want.
  • Issues! Never underestimate the fact that our airline will compensate an elite  more Skymiles, ETVs & other goodies like these at a MUCH higher rate when you complain to Delta if you are FO or GM or PM or DM!
  • Issues at the airport as well. Redcoats have been through some intense training as of late. Do you really think a general passenger gets the same treatment as a Medallion?
  • Speaking of issues, when you call Delta the computer says, “please enter your Delta Skymiles number”. This does impact your wait time to talk to a rep and even the quality of the rep once they answer.
  • Flight Changes. I preach & preach about the glorious and ultimate wild card in Skymiles booking, the mighty schedule change. The higher your status the more likely our friends at Chisom or the other call centers will say SURE we will do that change for you!
  • Partners. Delta has a bunch of partners. Passengers in tourist class are slightly appreciated by our airline. Delta partners treat them, well, like cattle! But if you can play the DYKWIA elite Delta card, in a nice way now, like “as a valued elite with Skyteam, I am sure we can find a solution” does not hurt you one bit! They will still fight you and give you looks, but if you stand firm things tend to work out!

I could go on and on about this all day. Despite the vast amount of medallion flyers with Delta, we really are a small percentage compared to the rest of the flyers and if we understand this it can help us. Think about this, getting both a personal and business Delta AMEX Reserve card, after your first one dollar spent on each card, you are only 5000 MQMs away from Silver status for the rest of this year. Reach that and you will have status until FEB2014! Not a bad deal for $450/each in 1st year card fee’s when you think about it.

So as you can see, chasing status is about much more than just upgrades and can really have a huge can impact your travels and how we interact with our Delta Air Lines. – René

 

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I am not a gambler; that is unless I am calling Delta Air Lines. Then, I play the game we all play, that is “call center roulette!” There are so many days that I need to go back and re-read my very first blog post I ever wrote. The reason I say this is that I just booked a low level business class trip from home to Sweden for my wife and I.

During the process I had two different reps tell me it was IMPOSSIBLE to do what I wanted to do. I was told there has been a change in the way KLM assigns award seats to Delta and if I could not use Delta.com to search from point A to point B then there were NO seats, even if I could find them some other way on Delta.com. Rep #1 seemed very knowledgeable and almost threw me off my “game”! But we all know the drill, hang up and call back if you don’t like the answer right?

I was told by rep #2 the same  story,  if I could not find inventory direct all the way from point A to point B on Delta.com then they would not be able to book it. The “old way”, if you found all the Delta parts you want over the water, you could then call and have the reps look for KLM seats intra-Europe and grab the rest for you. I was told this way was “wrecking havoc with KLM inventory” and so this was no longer possible by any Delta reps! This was a NEW policy implemented over 6-weeks ago -  uh oh not good!  Now here is the deal, I could find, searching one way segments, business seats on  delta.dumb  AZO-DTW-EWR at low level and EWR-AMS-GOT at low level but could not put them into one trip on Delta.com.

So in frustration at this possible NEW rule I did not know about, I reached out to  Gary @ View from the Wing. His advice was perfect and so correct. Most Delta phone reps don’t know their jobs and that is why we must call back again and again and play “call center roulette.” He suggested putting segments on hold on Delta.com. I did just that and held them ALL in 3 ONE WAY segments (outbound and return) in individual PNR’s all at low level business seats.

Time for call #3. This rep seemed good. I asked her to please look up all 3 PNR’s and put them into one trip. In about 10 min, and with a call to the help desk, she did just that. She did the impossible! How in the WORLD did she do this I asked? What did she have to ask for from the help desk? The answer was almost too simple to believe; the help desk simply told her “price them as booked“! So thank you Gary for your wonderful bit of advice as I now have two 100k tickets for just points and $87 (billed to my Delta AMEX Reserve card naturally)! And again please take my advice from my first blog post ever, if you don’t like the answer you get call back again and again and again and again!

I will tell you I am not happy to AZO-DTW-EWR-AMS-GOT, but this far out, we are talking spring 2013 here, there will be no less than 5-10 schedule changes to this trip and I have no doubt I will end up flying SBN-DTW-AMS-GOT on the exact flights that right now would have cost me 325,000 Skymiles each!

“Are we learning yet” (me included)? – Rene

 

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I promise to let this one go but this deal keeps getting better and better. I blogged about this before and gave away the 100 points / $20 code I had saved up from my Coke purchases. But I missed an important part. Check this out:

So, if you don’t yet have a Rapid Rewards account, or say someone in your family (like your grandma, granddad, cousin, uncle, aunt, etc.) does not yet have one, they can get Coke Rewards points in the form of a Coke code worth 60 points and  up to 750 AW Air Rapid Rewards points.  ANYONE can redeem only  ONE  of these codes. If you already have a Rapid Rewards account you could use the code from someone else.

To get the extra 40 points all you have to do is buy a few cases of soda (2×24 case would work),  and then redeem them for the $20 off SW Air certificate.

I signed my mom up for a SW Air account under the deal. I doubt she will ever fly SW Air, but the Rapid Rewards account is free and I did get the code for the 60 Coke Rewards points plus had a few extra so I redeemed another $20 SW Air code.

To win the code, all you have to do is tell me how you first found DeltaPoints.com. I really want to know! Was it from BA or FT or another blog or a Google search? Where? – René

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I hate spiders. I admit I have an almost unbalanced fear of them that could use psychiatric help. Yes, it is that bad. I get that spiders need to live for the balance of the ecology, but I would take more gnats, flies, bugs or you name it if all spiders became extinct.

Slightly lower on my list than spiders comes cell phone calls on an airplane. I also freely admit I have a problem I try to work on each day and that is being a “loud talker” on cell phones. I fight it, I am aware of it, and do try not to be so loud. I cannot imagine how bad I would be on an airplane. I bet the cabin crew could hear me from coach if I ever made a call in-flight.

I weighed in on my fellow BoardingArea.com blogger Kevin’s (aka ghettoife.com) post “about Virgin Atlantic introducing full Mobile Communications on-board” and voted the “only in an emergency” option.

Thankfully our Delta CEO seems to have no plans to allow cell phone use on our Delta jets any time soon as you can see at the end of the interview from THIS post about the opening of the ATL airport the other day. And in case you missed it in the news a few weeks back, there was an incident on a Delta flight where a customer, who btw develops voip apps, got in deep trouble for trying an in-flight call as you can see HERE.

Brian Williams video about VA calls

I can tell you, and I am betting many readers will agree, that many of our fellow flyers are over the top loud on their phones in the Delta Skyclubs! One of the reasons I go to the Skyclub is for peace and quiet from the “din” in and around the gate area. Think  about the idea of one of these types of people going from loud there to loud on the plane for hours! That would make me completely over the top nuts. So just to be clear, I am 100% against even the idea of allowing calls in-flight! We are tightly packed together in an already loud environment. We do not need to add to the noise and I hope Delta keeps the ban in place. Do you agree? – Rene

☺☺☺☺☺ ☺☺☺☺☺ ☺☺☺☺☺ ☺☺☺☺☺

Don’t forget that later today I will do the drawing for today’s qualifier to win the new NOOK 7″ Tablet so be sure to sign up for the once a day e-Mail for a chance to win it this Sunday!

 

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No, I am not becoming a SW Air blogger after two SW posts in one week. Yes, we are all a bit over-the-top when it comes to collecting points from every place and everywhere. And ya know, sometimes it can pay off.

I love that our airline serves Coke products. I love to drink Coke (Zero is my favorite btw). I save every Coke “code” from every box. The 12 pack box code is worth 10 points. The 24 pack is worth 20 points. This is naturally on top of the 5x Ultimate Rewards points I got with my  CHASE Freedom card  for buying the Coke in a grocery store last month, this month? I even recycle the cans and get some cash back that way too!

Right now Coke Rewards is offering, for spending 100 points, a $20 code for SouthWest Air Wanna Get Away Fares. They also have one that you can try for a chance to win a pair of SW Air tickets for just 3 points! With prices going up all the time, even $20 off is a nice deal.

So, as most of you dedicated DeltaPoints readers know, I don’t fly SW Air. Not for any other reason than they are 2 hrs away for me and their idea of a Skyclub, as shown here by my good friend Marshall Jackson on Travel, does not excite me.

For SW AIR flyers this seems like a good value for Coke Rewards points. So I redeemed 100 points and now want to giveaway that CODE for $20 off a SW AIR flight that I will give to a random comment below. Please do NOT comment if you CAN NOT USE THE CODE to fly SW AIR before Nov. 15th, 2012 as I hate to see it go to waste. For the runner up I will also give away a Coke 10 point code for them to have a chance to enter the sweepstakes at Coke Rewards as well.

Also do note, *NOT MY LINK*,  there is still a live 50,000 Chase SW AIR card (edit deal is now dead – current best deal is here) floating around. While I cannot guarantee the points, most are reporting it is working. If you are thinking about a CHURN, why not add this one to the mix along with the 30,000 point DELTA GOLD AMEX and maybe the Hilton 40,000 card from CitiBank for a nice tri-fecta of 120,000 points for all 3 cards in one day (after you meet the spend that is). – René

 

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There are few people like Rick, The Frugal Travel Guy. I read every word he writes. I listen, closely, when he speaks. He makes me think and I like that! The other brilliant mind I read each day is Gary, View from the Wing. I also pay very close attention when he speaks, even if I don’t always “get” everything he says. But yesterday, thanks to Gary, I am planning on going to Brazil on a mileage run. Here is the link to the post if you want to know what I am going on about.

….now that you are back, here is my plan. I need about 10k more MQM this year to end up GOLD for 2013. I may push for Platinum but would be fine with GOLD at this point. I have a few ETV’s to burn and thought about just flying over to see my mom as that will earn me the MQM’s I need. Then I read Gary’s post about British Avios points for no fuel tax from Brazil. I have never been to Brazil. There is a direct overnight flight from DTW to Brazil. I can connect via AZO and earn an extra 1000 MQM round trip and it costs less to buy the ticket from there I found from Matrix software search.

BTW, Matrix can also be useful for some of my other techniques I talk about. For example, do a search for airports 150 miles from your home one and see how many pop up that you did not know about!

So, I will get to vacation a few days in Brazil, spend the money it would have cost me in tax to burn my BA points originating in the USA with Delta and earn MQM’s and RDM’s. The RDM’s I earn will offset the extra Avios points it will take to fly from GRU rather than ORD as an origination point. I will start looking for a hotel on points so that will be free. Now I just have to find seats to make it all work!

This is why we all need to read blogs. We learn to think outside the box. It is also why we collect points from everywhere so that when you see something that makes your eyes sparkle and gleam, you can, like me, wake your wife up and say “Schmoopy, we are going to Brazil”! (I should admit she is not really happy about 10hrs in coach but it is a night flight both ways) – Rene

 

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Last Friday The Today show had as a guest Kenlie Tiggeman, who is currently suing Southwest Airlines over an incident where she was told she was “too fat to fly” by a gate agent. Whether you agree or not with her issues with Southwest in her legal case, this is something that brings up a range of questions in my mind.

Now please bear in mind that I am not exactly tiny (yeah like most I need to drop about 30 lbs), so I get the problems with the reductions in seat sizes and this is one reason I like to sit “in front of the curtain”. You might remember my humorous post about things that will get you kicked off a Delta flight? It included being a “passenger of size” although in reality they will try to accommodate you in some way as you will see! Seriously though, my first question after seeing this story is how do airlines determine a passenger to be a “passenger of size” ? What are the alternate seating policies for “passengers of size” ?

 

Here is what our airline will do. First, Delta’s policies state that a passenger must be able to fasten the seat belt with 1 extension and lower both armrests. Failure to meet these conditions means the passenger qualifies as a “passenger of size” and must comply with alternate seating requirements. These can include requiring the passenger to move to another seat with more space available, or in the case of a full flight, they may end up having to wait for a seat on a later flight that is not fully booked so there would be an extra empty seat available. In today’s world of very full flights, this could be a long wait. But it is important to note that unlike SW Air, Delta does not require the passenger to purchase an additional seat. Delta’s policy is clearly stated at Delta.com.

Back to Southwest Airline’s policy that states in the contract of carriage on page 11 that it is their sole discretion to determine if a passenger “encroaches on an adjacent seat area or is unable to sit in a single seat with the armrest lowered.” The Today show story asserts that the Southwest Airlines employee asked this woman how much she weighed, and what size clothing she wore. Now in my experience, you NEVER ask a woman what she weighs or how old she is  (and I have been told the weight on her driver’s license is a “goal” weight)!

If the policies all center around fitting into the seat, then there should be a means provided to check to see if a passenger can in fact fit into the seat. Whether that means requesting any suspected “passengers of size” to pre-board in order to discreetly check or having a size-wise passenger seat available in a discreet location. This brochure, published in March of this year by NAAFA, makes several suggestions for persons of size to consider prior to travel in order to make things go more smoothly for them on their trip.

I like the fact that our airline will not force a 2nd seat purchase. But I also see the reason to amass just a ridiculous amount of points so I do not have to ever fly coach unless I want to! – Rene

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It is Friday. The week has been long. How about we end the week with some smiles. Back before I was Delta Points I loved all the BA bloggers. I loved how Ben and Gary did the back and forth between the blogs. Then one of the other bloggers, Frequent Miler, did a made up text of an argument over Membership Rewards vs. Delta Skymiles. Here is the result put to cartoons I did after borrowing the script.

Then recently I found a Frontier video for their new mascot that is so funny I roared out loud. It is just hilarious and very well done!

And since it is just about time to punch the clock for the week, this may be the way your flight goes on the way back home tonight!

Have a fun weekend and tell me what video you like the best of the 3 for a chance to win a DeltaPoints T-shirt today! – Rene

 

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Do you have any idea how much fuel it takes to move a jet from the ground to cruising altitude? After that it still takes a bunch of gas to move us and our stuff from point A to B.

To be fair, the industry as a whole does today do all it can to reduce just how much of all types of pollution it creates. Delta Air Lines was one of the very first to make a concerted effort to recycle and continues to do so, and we should be proud of our airline for doing this.

Many of us “car guys” will spend a ton of time on our cars. We will wash them. Pamper them. Wax them. Do all we can to make them perfect. After all a clean, waxed & perfect car saves gas over a dirty one that will burn MORE gas right?

So have you ever thought about how your Delta Air Lines aircraft gets clean on the outside? My fellow BA blogger Frequent Flying did a post about Southwest Air and just what it takes to clean an airliner. But I want you to take the time to click on and watch the below video and see just how much WATER this process takes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSanofkPMFQ

Is there maybe a better way to go about cleaning the outside of an aircraft that will not only save a bunch of water but also reduce the amount of times you have to wash the aircraft? Skyteam partner Air France seems to have come up with a great way of doing all these things as you can see by this post on the Air France site and in the video below:

Now I hope the Delta looks at it’s partners’ efforts with this as I strongly feel over the next 20 years that clean water is going to be an issue for our planet. There are things we can do as well, as flyers, and I plan to cover these in a post soon. – Rene

PS – today’s drawing will be for a nice set of earbuds and a 1 time GoGo pass to a confirmed e-mail subscriber later today!

 

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